Bruce Seals – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
Booker T. Washington High School/Xavier University/NBA
After earning Louisiana MVP honors at Booker T. Washington High School, Bruce Seals became an NAIA men’s basketball All-American in 1971-72 and 1972-73 and one of the leaders of the renaissance of Xavier University of Louisiana men’s basketball in the 1970s. The 6-8 forward played five seasons in the ABA and the NBA.
Seals led BTW’s Lions to the LHSAA Class 4A semifinals as a senior in 1971. Although he had offers from more publicized schools, Seals opted to stay home and attend XULA with BTW teammates Greg Berniard, James Williams and Ames Growe.
“Bruce was quiet as a child,” said Berniard, who grew up with Seals in the Calliope Projects. “When he got to Booker T., an assistant coach, Robert Anderson, saw something in him and helped make him who he came to be. Bruce was dedicated and worked at his craft and became a very, very good ballplayer.”
At XULA Seals averaged 18.7 points and 12.2 rebounds in 26 games for a team that was 22-5, won the NAIA District 30 championship and reached the second round in its first-ever appearance at NAIA nationals. The next year Seals averaged 25.6 points and 13.7 rebounds in 27 games for a 21-6 team that repeated as District 30 champion and reached the NAIA’s national quarterfinals. In a 67-60 upset of top-seeded and unbeaten Sam Houston State in the second round on March 14, 1973, in Kansas City, Mo., Seals produced the program’s first triple-double: 32 points, 10 rebounds and 12 blocked shots, the latter still a XULA record.
His two-season totals at XULA included 22.2 points per game in 53 contests. Seals shot 52 percent from the floor (486-of-934) and 61.7 percent from the line (206-of-334). He scored 1,178 points and grabbed 688 rebounds.
Entering the 2020-21 season, Seals still held six XULA records, including rebounds per game in a career, 13.0.
After two seasons, Seals departed XULA to play professionally. He was drafted by the Utah Stars in the first round of the 1973 ABA Draft and played two seasons in Salt Lake City, helping the Stars to the Western Division title and a trip to the ABA finals, where they lost to the New York Nets. He joined the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics from 1975-78, averaging in double figures in scoring twice (1975-76 and 1976-77). In Seattle he was reunited with guard Donald “Slick” Watts, who starred for XULA from 1970-73. Seals averaged 8.9 points and 4.2 rebounds in 348 combined ABA-NBA games.
Followed his NBA career with a stint in the Italian professional league.
Seals later moved to the Boston area and spent many years as athletic director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Dorchester, Mass., and as a men’s basketball assistant coach at Boston’s Emerson College.
Born June 18, 1953, Seals was inducted into the Louisiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999. He died on December 15, 2020 at the age of 67.
XULA records still held by Bruce Seals
• Blocked shots: 12 vs. Sam Houston State, March 14, 1973
• Rebounds: 370 in 1972-73
• Field-goal attempts: 571 in 1972-73
• Field goals made: 294 in 1972-73
• Rebounds per game: 13.0 (688 rebounds in 53 games)
• Field-goal attempts per game: 17.62 (934 field-goal attempts in 53 games)
MORE READING: Obituary from Xavier University.